Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Big Read 2020 Community Videos

 


Return to main page: NEA Big Read Morongo Basin

Welcome to our creative community page! The response has been great, so click here to visit page two of these videos! We look forward to seeing YOUR videos this month - your creative thoughts about Hope Jahren's book and/or science in general. How is science reflected in your life on a daily basis? How has this book helped you see science in a new way? Join us by creating a video, uploading it to you-tube, and then sharing it here on this page featuring community members from the entire Morongo Basin - Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Landers, Pioneertown, Flamingo Heights, Joshua Tree, Twenty-Nine Palms, Wonder Valley, Amboy, and every space in-between.

We also have also a Practical Science in the Desert video page <-> click here.

Let us know about your local video - send an email to bigread2020@chollaneedles.com Thank you! We're looking forward to your thoughts! Videos will be added all month, so come visit often. Enjoy your friends:






















Available locally at Rainbow Stew in Yucca Valley =:-)


Big Read Community Videos 2

 


Return to main page: NEA Big Read Morongo Basin

Welcome to our second creative community page for 2020! You can return to page one of community videos by clicking here. We look forward to seeing YOUR videos this month - your creative thoughts about Hope Jahren's book and/or science in general. How is science reflected in your life on a daily basis? How has this book helped you see science in a new way? Join us by creating a video, uploading it to you-tube, and then sharing it here on this page featuring community members from the entire Morongo Basin - Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Landers, Pioneertown, Flamingo Heights, Joshua Tree, Twenty-Nine Palms, Wonder Valley, Amboy, and every space in-between.


Let us know about your local video - send an email to bigread2020@chollaneedles.com Thank you! We're looking forward to your thoughts! Videos will be added all month, so come visit often. Enjoy your friends:







Big Read: Practical Science Videos

 


Return to main page: NEA Big Read Morongo Basin

Welcome to our practical science community page! We look forward to seeing YOUR videos this month - your practical thoughts about Hope Jahren's book and/or science in general. How is science reflected in your life on a daily basis? How has this book helped you see science in a new way? Join us by creating a video, uploading it to you-tube, and then sharing it here on this page featuring community members from the entire Morongo Basin - Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Landers, Pioneertown, Flamingo Heights, Joshua Tree, Twenty-Nine Palms, Wonder Valley, Amboy, and every space in-between.

Let us know about your local video - send an email to bigread2020@chollaneedles.com Thank you! We're looking forward to your thoughts! Videos will be added all month, so come visit often. Enjoy your friends:











MORE FUN!

Also check out our creative community. YOU are also welcome to submit your creative thoughts based on this year's book, Lab Girl. All ages welcome! See what your fellow community members are up to:



 













September Issue Released - Cholla Needles 45!


The Science issue is published to coincide 
with The Big Read in the Morongo Valley 
sponsored by the NEA and guided locally 
by the San Bernardino Arts Connection.

This month's artwork is by Kim Martin.

The wonderful poetry, stories, and essays within are by:


Jean-Paul L. Garnier
Cynthia Anderson
Simon Perchik
Tobi Alfier
Peter Jastermsky
Susan Rukeyser
George Howell
Ellen e Baird
Ernest Alois
Caryn Davidson
L. I. Henley

We encourage our local readers 

to purchase a copy at 
Rainbow Stew in Yucca Valley
Space Cowboy in Joshua Tree
Raven's in 29 Palms
& JT Coffee in Joshua Tree
Support our local distributors!

Review - Patti Smith with Soundwalk Collective (2016-2020)

The final part of the Perfect Vision trilogy is now available and this feels like a good time to evaluate all these poetic adventures as a whole. 

Killer Road (2016) is pre-trilogy, and is dedicated to the German poet Christa Päffgen. She is known in our culture as Nico. The introductory piece is a spoken word reminder of the tragic death of Christa on the road "waiting for you like a finger pointing in the night." The other eight pieces on the album are the poems of Christa performed as spoken word by Patti Smith with a unique musical background from Soundwalk Collective. For those familiar with Nico's work these pieces are unexpected and create the desire to pull out the Nico versions, which are more adventurous. Over time as these new versions become friends, it is easier to accept them as new art performances.  "There is no witness to my anger / When it stabs until it dies / I am looking for the strangler / To help me, help me with my crime".  




The next three albums were announced as a triptych entitled The Perfect Vision, with spoken word pieces assembled and inspired from the work of three French poets Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud, and René Daumal. The Soundwalk Collective traveled to three regions of the world in an attempt to discover an authentic background ambiance for the words of each writer.


The Peyote Dance (2019) Recorded in the northwestern region of Mexico, the musicians were looking for inspiration in the same manner Antonin Artaud did in 1936. "I am the man who has best charted his inmost self." Humility aside, Artaud did profess an aversion for the external life being led in Europe, Asia, and the United States, and hoped to find a life of simplicity among the indigenous peoples of Mexico. He recognized the many tribes, and spent time with Tarahumara. His written observations inspired the beat writers, and Ferlinghetti's City Lights keeps translations of Artaud's work in print. 

Patti's emotional reading of Indian Culture gives the distinct impression that Artaud was not enthralled with every aspect of Mexico. This track is especially effective and provides a strong introduction to the poetry that follows. A few tracks later in The New Revelations Of Being the tone changes dramatically to an acceptance of the cuture "here where the mother eats her sons / power eats power / short of war" 



Patti writes her own words to deepen the listener's understanding of the reality of Artaud in the poem Ivry:

Slowly, he goes
From the room like any other
Toward the mountain
Toward the mountain
In Mexico
Where the soul quakes
Where the heart aches
To Mexico
Our sleeping friend
So scorned, adorned
One step, then another
From the solitary cell


Mummer Love (2020) Like Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud left France for a time to escape from "western stagnation". Rimbaud chose Africa and ended up in Harar, Ethiopia. The musicians followed his path and spent time with Sufi masters and practioners, recording their music and chants, and ambient sounds. Artaud is given space to speak to us through Patti's voice making this a true and effective collaborative effort. Soundwalk Collective has also made recordings of Rimbaud "Illuminations" which can be accessed on their podcasts page.




Peradim (2020) This recording is based on a fictional "Mount Analogue" by René Daumal. The musicians chose to visit the Himalayas as the source of inspiration for this album. The peradim is also fictional, a precious object harder than diamond that "is revealed only when someone knows they are seeking it." Patti and the Soundwalk team bring these words to life in equally fictional spirituality "we will climb / and not move / a single muscle".  There is a joyous peace throughout this enjoyable album. "The gateway to the invisible / must be visible"

I admit partiality to the final cut and tend to repeat it every time the album plays because a magical feeling of truth comes alive in me as Patti reminds all life is dependent on each other living thing. This lesson is learned by killing an old rock rat, and the energy reminds me of the poetry of Donovan Leitch: "first there is a mountain / then there is no mountain / then there is." Why does the mind make these leaps? We'll never know. Patti Smith and Sound Collective are able to capture that inner kingdom quality we all need from time to time to maintain a sense of mental balance. "Hi-ho / to the mountains go / where all / the flowers grow." 

If I ruled the world, my personal choice for a future Patti and the Collective would be a wild and raucous take on Daumal's Night of Serious Drinking

The Perfect Vision triptych works beautifully as a night of aural exploration into spoken word poetry & spirituality. It was good to experience them one at a time as they were released, and now that they are available to experience as a unit I do believe that when I revisit the set, I'll listen to them in order, in the same manner as I listen to Killer Road in the same session with Nico's final albums. 


Review: Garrison Keillor - The Lake Wobegon Virus

The Lake Wobegon Virus: A Novel by Garrison Keillor

It sure is great when a writer can help readers like me get through a difficult subject with humor, and Garrison manages to do this with four to five out-loud laughs per page. Since I am reviewing this for a literary magazine, I will also mention that the poetry Garrison included in this slim volume about our second favorite small town in America, Lake Wobegon, is great fun. (Of course, everyone's most favorite small town is the one they happen to be holed up in during this crazy year called 2020).


Born to Raise Hell

I got sick of this old town,
No excitement to be found
Now everybody’s telling stories
How I trashed the lavatories
When I walked by the fire barn
I saw the box with the steel arm
I broke the glass, I rang the bell
I raised hell.

You can see my writing on the wall
In every lavatory stall.
Set off sirens during Mass,
Threw a rock through the stained glass.
I done my job very well
I was born to raise hell.

Other poets are mentioned and even quoted from. What a blast it was to attend a funeral and hear William Cullen Bryant brilliantly excerpted. 

You can't have a novel about a virus in 2020 without mentioning the President by name, and yes, even Donald J. Trump gets a mention in this book because - well, it's best if you read it yourself. His presence is another snorting-milk-(or beer)-through-your-nose moment that would take longer to tell you why it's funny than to simply let you read it yourself in context.  It all has to do with Johnny Rogers, a singing poet, who wrote immortal lines like:

Birches and a big elm tree,
On a porch just you and me.
Tulips all thick and sweet,
Lonely neighbors on the street.
The whistle of a southbound train,
Summer night, feels like rain.

The folks and I don’t belong.
Nobody knows us in this town.
Nobody needs us, that is clear.
So where do we go from here?
Crickets murmur in the grass
The trains go through and the hours pass.

and

You look at me like I was giving off an odor,
You got your daughter in the car and started up the motor
And you closed the windows and locked up the doors
And I thought to myself: Up yours.

and

Proud of Who I Am


My beer’s gone flat and I lost my hat
and I’m getting fat, she tells me.
It’s all that steak ’n’ burgers with bacon
that’s makin’ this great big belly.

An’ I walk with a gimp and I feel like a simp
and my willie’s gone limp and I’m stuck in
A lower gear and I’m out of beer
but I’m here so I’ll keep on truckin’.

True Americana poetry! 

There are literally about a dozen events happening on each page, and somehow all working together to visit every aspect of life on our planet in these approx 230 pages. For the readers here, who are also mostly writers, the best advice about the writing life is openly hidden in these pages, with our main character reminiscing about meeting F. Scott Fitzgerald. A wonderful & thoughtful scene - and I know I'll be looking at my own writing much differently every day thanks to this fortuitous meeting.

So there you have it - philosophy, humor, birth, death, sex, alcohol, dreams, and another Great American Novel from Garrison, who managed to sneak a micropoem into the mix:

I write these short lines
With fear in my heart that they
Will make a haiku

=:-)


Click here to order your copy on-line ($24.29)

Monday, August 31, 2020

Review of Antkind by Charlie Kaufman

Reviewed by Greg Gilbert

 

              Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind has been described as Portnoy’s Complaint meets Finnegan’s Wake. In terms of visual art, I’d suggest Hieronymus Bosch meets Gary Larson. This is a work that can only be described through inadequate similes because it’s like nothing else I’ve read. The story describes a crisis of existence, perhaps even an existential crises, in the life of a film critic, a pretentious and painfully self-conscious pseudo intellectual, B. Rosenberg, a Jewish looking non-Jew who repeatedly experiences pratfalls into open “person” holes. While the narrative ranges from the profound and poetic to the spiritual and profane, the writing style is Groucho Marxist in the extreme. Nothing escapes lampooning, including a variety of damning observations about the artist Charlie Kaufman.

                In “real” life, Kaufman is a filmmaker credited with Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, and Anomalisa, a stop-motion film. His fascination with stop-motion and human beings as meat-puppets is central to Antkind. This is his breakout novel. At 714 pages, it really does feel like the author is breaking out of something. I felt as though I’d been on a long amusement ride that included a haunted house, a time machine, a tunnel of love, a variety of “Who’s on first” variations, and a meat packing house with Terminators and clown medics.

                Anita Felicelli describes Kaufman’s work as “feverish genius.” I’m not so certain.  Antkind tells its story of human absurdity by being grossly absurd, more fever than genius. There is a sense of liberation and release in the prose style, certainly the product of a smart and, dare I say it, an overtly self-indulgent style that would leave Tom Robbins scratching his head, but no more genius than B. Rosenberg. After reading Antkind and recovering from near exhaustion, I had to admit to a touch of awe at the author’s gimmicky freedom. I have a hunch that Kaufman’s absurd meanderings will linger in my thoughts for some time. This is not so much a recommendation as a review. Personally, if he writes another book, I’ll likely skim it.   

- - -

Greg Gilbert is the author of Afflatus.

More info